A practical guide for nutritional and traditional health care.
The rose hips or fruits of different species of the rose plant have always had a significant place in natural medicine, as they are very rich in vitamin C content. The color of these rose hips varies from dark red to bright scarlet and their shapes differ too. While some of the rose hips may be ovoid in appearance, there are others that are pear-shaped. Basically, the rose hips are collected from the variety of rose plant called the dog rose or Rosa canina. However, herbalists prefer the larger rose hips of the Japanese rose called R. rugosa. Even other varieties of the rose plant, including R. acicularis as well as R. cinnamomea, are also valued greatly. Incidentally, all these different varieties of rose plants belong to the Rosaceae family.
As mentioned earlier, the rose hips or the fruits of the different varieties of the rose plants enclose high quantity of vitamin C and hence are of great value to the practitioners of herbal medicine. In fact, the rose hips are used to prepare teas, purees, extracts, marmalades and even soups and all these are consumed as nourishments as they contain lots of vitamin C. Extracts from the rose hips are generally included in several natural vitamin mixtures like tablets, capsules, syrups and many other similar things. Interestingly, manufacturers of most such vitamin amalgams are always careful about never mentioning the proportion of vitamin obtained from rose hips and from artificial ascorbic acid. The rose hips are known to possess properties that help in preventing as well as healing scurvy (a disease caused by vitamin deficiency). In addition, the rose hips also have gentle laxative and diuretic effects which help in the movement of bowels and increasing the urine outflow from the body respectively.
Chemical analysis of the rose hips has shown that they contain 0.5 to 1.7 per cent vitamin C. However, the real content of vitamin C in the commercially available dried rose fruits varies depending on the accurate botanical source of the plant from which the rose hips have been acquired. For instance, the quantity of vitamin C present in these commercially available dried rose hips is influenced by factors like the place where the rose plant was grown, the time of harvesting the rose hips, the manner in which the fruits were dried, where and how the dehydrated rose hips were stored and other things like these. It has been often found that many commercial varieties of the rose plant material contain little or no traces of vitamin C at all. Even though we may take it for granted that the commercial varieties of the rose hips available in the market possess approximately one per cent of vitamin C on an average and the entire vitamin is available in the end product, at least one proposal does not seem to be convincing. As the present cost of vitamin C acquired from the rose hips is at least 25 times more than the artificial product, it is not feasible for the manufacturers to add enough of the natural substance in their products.
In addition to substantial proportions of vitamin C, the rose hips possess several other chemical amalgams which comprise 11 per cent of pectin and three per cent of a blend of malic and citric acids. Researchers are of the view that the presence of malic acid and citric acid contributes to the rose hips' laxative and diuretic effects. As a consequence, physicians frequently recommend the use of rose hips or preparations with it to treat constipation and urinary problems.
Over the centuries, gardeners across the globe have admired and loved the rose flowers that are undoubtedly elegant as well as aromatic. At the same time, the gardeners have also held the hips or the fruits of the rose plant in high esteem for its numerous medicinal benefits. The rose hips vary from oval to round to pear-shape in appearance and they appear either in the latter part of summer or during the fall. Interestingly, in reality, the rose hips are not fruits, but receptacles or containers that enclose the actual fruits of the rose plant. The actual rose fruit is known as ‘seeds' or ‘achenes'.
Long ago, people thought the rose hips to be sacred. This is corroborated from the fact that during the Middle Ages, the rosary of the Catholics was made from rose hips and hence they were called rosary. These rosaries were used to count the prayers as they were also being said. Even today, the beads of the rosary used by the Catholics resemble the rose hips and like the fruits of different species of the rose plant, these modern-day beads are also smooth and elongated in appearance.
Here is an important point to note. Compared to the hybrids, it is generally easier to take care of the different original species of the rose plant. In addition, the original species of the rose also generate more tender and fleshy hips that are best for consumption. If you intend to use the rose for culinary as well as decorative purposes, you should go for the original species of the rose and cultivate them in your garden. On the other hand, if you fancy the climbing variety of the rose and also want them to fruit generously, never ever trim or prune the plants soon after their blossoming season in summer.
It may be mentioned here that if not harvested, the rose hips generally remain on the plant all through the early part of the winter or till the birds, rabbits and field rodents have either eaten them up or stored them somewhere for future use. Owing to the high intensity of ascorbic acid present in them, the rose hips stimulating tart taste that is very much fruit-like. In fact, fresh rose hips enclose as much as 60 times the quantity of vitamin C contained in the oranges and the rugosa roses. The rugosa rose bears comparatively large round shaped fruits and are known to contain rich proportions of vitamin C.
In addition to being a beautiful and aromatic flower, the rose is also beneficial as remedies for several disorders. The leaves as well as the petals of the rose plant provide a comforting effect and if ingested as a tea, can diminish body temperature during high fevers. The tea prepared with rose petals and leaves is also effective in cleansing toxins and heat from the body, particularly when they give rise to rashes on the skin and inflammatory (swelling and irritation) problems. Several researched have shown that the rose also possesses properties that increases the body's immunity and helps to restrict all kinds of infections from becoming larger problems. This is possible owing to the rose's cleansing or purification properties.
Infusion prepared with rose petals may be used to alleviate cold and flu symptoms. At the same time, the infusion is effective in treating sore throats, runny nose as well as congested bronchial tracts. On the other hand, infusion or syrup prepared with rose hips is beneficial in reinforcing the lungs to combat all kinds of infections and is especially useful for those who suffer from chest problems. At the same time, roses are also effective in combating infections in the digestive system and restoring the normal and essential bacteria in the intestines. The petals and seeds of the rose have a diuretic effect and are beneficial in relieving excessive fluids from the urinary bladder. This way, they also help in getting rid of the waste and toxic substances in the body through the kidneys. Hence, rose is also considered to be an effective cleanser and purifier.
Like the rose hips, the petals of the rose flowers also have numerous remedial uses. For instance, the rose petals are effective in relieving congestion in the female reproductive system. In addition, the rose petals may also be used to treat the excessive accumulation of fluid in the urinary tract and thereby alleviate pains and, in women, heavy periods. Physicians also recommend the use of rose petals to treat erratic menstrual periods, infertility as well as to perk up sexual desire in individuals.
Infusion prepared from the rose petals acts as a useful astringent and is effective for treating diarrhea, enteritis and dysentery. It may be noted here that tea prepared from rose petals may be used as a laxative to clear bowel movement. At the same time, the rose petal tea is also an effective medication for the liver and enhances flow of bile, invigorates as well as purifies the liver and the gallbladder. It also helps in alleviating problems related with lethargic liver like headaches and constipation.
Rose hips as well as the petals of the rose flowers possess inspiring as well as reconditioning affects on the nervous system. They are also capable of alleviating the problems of insomnia, do away with depression, drive out fatigue and also offer comfort in conditions such as tetchiness.
Different parts of the rose plant are useful for different purposes and hence they have different applications. The rose hips or fruits of the rose plant, flowers and even the petals are beneficial in some way or the other and used by people as tincture, syrup, essential oil, cream, lotion, rosewater, massage oil, gargle and decoction.
Combine all the dry ingredients, mix well, and add the oils, a drop at a time, mixing as you work. Seal into a jar, and cure for 6 weeks in a dry, dark, warm place that is well ventilated. Shake the jar daily. When cured, turn the potpourri into a decorative container with a tightly stoppered lid. Open only when the potpourri is in use.
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